We can’t talk about mental health without exploring inequality

On Voices, we will be marking World Mental Health Day 2022 with insightful and thought-provoking coverage, writes Harriet Williamson

Tuesday 11 October 2022 08:56 BST
<p>Mental health and mental illness are informed by our environment </p>

Mental health and mental illness are informed by our environment

Today, Monday 10 October, is World Mental Health Day. The theme this year is “make mental health for all a global priority”. Often, we are happy to share supportive infographics and slogans on social media a couple of times a year, and pay only lip service to the laudable goal of mental wellness for all people. Asking the hard questions and campaigning for real change at policy level, however, is more difficult.

Throughout my career, I’ve written candidly about my mental health and my struggles with a number of different diagnoses. Growing into my thirties, I’m less interested in the specific labels we put on a set of symptoms, and more in the social and economic conditions that foster mental ill health and trap people in cycles of poverty and despair.

Inequality in the UK – in the form of real-terms cuts to benefits and public services; in the trauma of structural racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia; in an entrenched class system that keeps people poor and disenfranchised; in a political culture that blames the powerless for the social havoc wrought by wealthy elites – is harming our mental health.

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